What do successful companies do in an economic downturn?

American Express

“In tough times your instinct is to hold back, but your competitors are going to be distracted. That’s the time to be aggressive and on the balls of your feet! …invest in your own success while others are afraid and burying their heads. As a result, your public relations program will stand out among your competitors … and give your organization a clear competitive advantage with sales, reputation growth and brand management.”

—American Express CEO Ken Chenault


“If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.”

—Bill Gates Microsoft

Seth Godin

“[This down turn] is the best thing that could ever happen to you because it makes it easier to be the winner when so many other companies are dropping out.”

—Seth Godin


“When we invest in marketing, things happen. We think it’s important to stick to our roots and stick to our value message. We’re getting a higher percentage of the dwindling marketplace. And when this crazy situation comes straight side up again, we’ll be positioned to increase our share even further.”

And what does the research say about marketing in an economic downturn?

McGraw-Hill Research

“McGraw-Hill Research in a study of U.S. recessions showed that business-to-business firms that maintained or increased their advertising expenditures during the 1981-1982 recession averaged significantly higher sales growth, both during the recession and for the following three years, than those that eliminated or decreased advertising. By 1985, sales of companies that were aggressive recession advertisers had risen 256% over those that didn’t keep up their advertising.

Kellogg School of Management

An article titled Innovation Through Recession by Andrew Razeghi examines the effects of increases in innovation and communication on business growth and illustrates example after example of why a recession is actually the best time for a business to invest more energy and resources in marketing, research and development.

Penn State

A  study by Penn State’s Smeal College of Business and the University of Texas, “Turning Adversity Into Advantage: Does Proactive Marketing During a Recession Pay Off?” found that,  “For well-positioned companies, an economic recession should not prompt marketing cutbacks, but rather an aggressive increase in marketing spending to achieve superior business performance”

Do you have any great “marketing in a down economy” experiences you want to share? I’d love to hear about it. You can leave a comment or send me an e-mail: beth@robesonmarketing.com